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Quick facts

  • 1.2 million people
  • 30.3% living on less than USD $1.90 / day
  • 58.8% of women have experienced intimate partner violence


Timor-Leste is one of the world’s newest and poorest countries — a small nation with around 74% of its population living in rural areas. It is also a land vulnerable to droughts, flash flooding, cyclones and unpredictable weather. And although rich in oil and gas, the revenue from these natural resources does not always reach where it is needed most.

Inequality between urban and rural communities is also increasing, while issues of food security, unemployment, environmental degradation and gender-based violence are widespread.

For more than 40 years Oxfam has been supporting development and humanitarian work in Timor-Leste. We’re currently working on practical solutions to help rural communities out of poverty and towards sustainable livelihoods.

Key areas of work

Livelihoods and Food Security, Governance and Social Accountability, Disaster Risk Reduction and Gender Justice

One story of change

Domingas Nono and José Tula live in Cunha with their two daughters. They are both members of an Oxfam Savings Group in the local area.
Photo: Vlad Sokin/OxfamAUS

Husband and wife José Tula and Domingas Nono (pictured above) live in Cunha with their two daughters. Since joining an Oxfam-supported savings group, the couple are realising their dreams for a better life, as José explains.

“After I got married life was very difficult, we didn’t have any food … we didn’t have any money. After we became members of a savings group, everything is much better. The savings group teaches you how to save money … how to manage money.” Domingas also welcomes their new-found financial stability: “You have your dream before you join this group; it is your own dream. When you save your money you can make your dream become a reality.” “After joining the group we [received] training on health, and even if we are sick, I have money, so I can buy medicine and take my daughters to the hospital. My eldest is studying in senior high school in Oecusse and my little daughter is going to junior high school, so I’m saving for education.”

The couple are also delighted with their permanent food garden, established with Oxfam’s support. “Before, we didn’t know what a permanent garden was, how to do terracing or how to protect the soil,” recalls Domingas. “Even though we have only done it for one year, it has given a good result. We’re growing corn and rice. I can enjoy my plants in my permanent garden and I can sell them.”

“Because we are chasing our dreams,” adds José, “we have to continue.”

Key projects

Strengthening Community Livelihoods in Timor-Leste

Oxfam Australia is utilising a community-led approach to improve the lives of vulnerable rural women and men in Timor-Leste. Oxfam Australia in partnership with 20 civil society organisations is working to contribute to equitable and resilient livelihood development for small scale women and men agricultural producers. This five year project (2015-2020) is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).

Disaster Ready – Timor-Leste

Oxfam Australia is working in Timor-Leste through the Australian Humanitarian Partnership’s Disaster Ready program to strengthen resilience, disaster preparedness and response. This four and a half year program (2018-2022) is working closely with government and nine local partners to strengthen resilience at the community level, enhance the early warning system and strengthen humanitarian coordination. This project is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian Humanitarian Partnership (AHP).

Open the Books: Promoting Good Governance and Social Accountability

Oxfam Australia is working to support and strengthen the capacity of civil society organisations and networks in Timor-Leste to engage in and influence Government policy processes and programs at national and municipal levels in Covalima and Oecusse. This three year project (2018-2021) is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).

australian aid blue and red

Land and Inclusive Development Program

Oxfam Australia is working in Timor-Leste in collaboration with local communities, networks and organisations to advocate for land justice for people in Timor-Leste. The program aims to strengthen the ability of people to understand and claim their rights to participate in, monitor and influence the development processes that can potentially threaten their rights and have an impact on their safety, livelihoods, families and wellbeing. The program seeks to influence government policies and legislation, especially related to the national state budget and the development of mega projects in Timor-Leste. This five year program (2015-2020) is supported by Oxfam Australia.


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